Str Marketing From An Influencer And Marketing Professional

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In this podcast, Liam and guest Dustin Baker discuss hospitality marketing strategies. They stress the importance of hosts treating their properties as thriving businesses and understanding their ideal guests. Social media is highlighted as a tool to capture traffic and direct it to a direct booking website. 

Dustin's coaching aims to establish a marketing system that accumulates content and grows an email list for repeat customers. Challenges include pricing strategies, which are overcome by setting clear booking lead time goals.

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Timestamps (audio)



[00:00:00] Liam: Marketing in hospitality is more specialized than in almost any other industry. And today we're going to be talking about all the things that you can do as a host to attract more bookends, more guests, more lookers, and turn them into bookers. So you're listening to the Boostly podcast, and this is the podcast that gives hosts the tools, the tactics, the.

[00:00:19] Training and most importantly, the confidence on how you can go out there and get more direct bookings. My name is Liam Carolan. I'm Mark Simpson's co-host. And today we have the spotlight series where we dive into people, services, or businesses that you as a host need to know about, and we've got special guests with us today.

[00:00:36] We've got Dustin Baker. He's from, uh, www. dustinbaker. ca forward slash host accelerator. Um, he is an awesome, uh, influencer on YouTube. He's a marketer and he knows his stuff when it comes down to short-term rental, uh, marketing and tactics and tricks, which is why I'm excited to have him on today.

[00:00:57] So welcome along Dustin. Thank you for being here.

[00:00:59] Dustin: Thanks Liam. Uh, glad to be here. Huge fan of Boostly in general and what you guys have done for the industry and uh, yeah, looking forward to offering any. Tips and actionable advice.

[00:01:10] Liam: That's cool. This is going to be fun. So, um, first of all, can you give yourself an introduction to, uh, yourself and your business?

A bit about Dustin

[00:01:17] Dustin: Yeah, for sure. So, um, I've been in this industry for about two years now. I started doing, um, a marketing agency for vacation rental hosts to get more bookings and scale their business. And yeah, and then now I'm shifting into a coaching program because I'm finding that a lot of hosts want to learn these strategies for themselves.

[00:01:37] Especially since a lot of them can be automated to fit in with their daily routine. And yeah, that's pretty much what I've been doing for the most part.

Some mistakes that hosts make

[00:01:46] Liam: That's cool. That's cool. So what would you say are some of the mistakes? You've probably worked with quite a few hosts. What are some of the mistakes that you see that hosts make?

[00:01:56] And what tips would you like to share with us?

[00:02:00] Dustin: Yeah, I mean, the mistake overall would be not treating it as a hospitality business and treating it like a passive long-term rental. Um, so many hosts the majority of them tend to just think of it as listing on Airbnb and kind of sitting back and watching, uh, you know, the bookings come in.

[00:02:17] But as most people are finding out, that's not the case. And there's so much that could be done to take this business into your own hands and get more bookings, market it, create a brand, create it. your direct booking website, gather emails and pass guests, and turn this into a thriving business that can grow steadily over the years.

[00:02:38] Liam: How do hosts understand their guest avatar and the people who come and stay with them? What, sort of tactics or tips have you got around that?

[00:02:49] Dustin: Yeah, so yeah, I usually give this thought when I think about branding and so when it comes to branding as a lot of people think of, you know, if they post on Airbnb, they typically name it, um, you know, keyword drove or family-friendly getaway.

[00:03:05] But I like to create a brand and give the property a name. And then when you go to build this brand. It all centres around the target audience and the guest avatar. And so what you want to do is, you don't want to think about it as a name and a logo and colours. You want to think about creating a brand identity that solves a problem and speaks to an ideal target guest.

[00:03:32] And so, for example, if you're in a beach getaway and you know, your ideal target guest is, uh, you know, like a family, like a mom. Who loves to sit on the beach and watch their kids play, then you want to build up that brand and understand that you know, who that customer is, what their pain points are, and what their desires are, and then focus all of your marketing and your positioning around speaking to that.

[00:03:59] Guest avatar.

What tech should hosts be considering?

[00:04:00] Liam: What are some of the tech that you would suggest to hosts to be considering? I mean, I know there's a lot of different, um, lots of different software, apps and tech out there. What tech would you recommend that hosts, uh, consider?

[00:04:14] Dustin: Yeah. So, um, one of which I'm a big fan of is, is stay fi. Um, I think at the very least, you know, it can be pretty daunting, to try and turn something from an Airbnb listing into a full business.

[00:04:29] Um, and there are a lot of different parts to it, but the first thing that any Airbnb host can be doing is at least start capturing the emails of the guests who stay at their property and then remarketing to them to try and get them to become loyal customers and come back again. This is a key part of the process that most people are missing because Getting a repeat guest is an incredibly important part of any business.

[00:04:53] Uh, you need two things. You need to give an incredible experience, which a lot of hosts are already working hard to do, and they're even getting reviews come back and saying, you know, can't wait to come back and, you know, would stay here again. But the problem is, life goes on, and people forget about it, and so what capturing their email allows you to do is stay top of mind, re-market to them, give them promotions, and get your best 5 10% of your customers to come back and stay with you.

[00:05:23] And then from there, that, that becomes the bottom funnel foundation of your entire business because if you're constantly getting even just 5% of your best guests to come back and stay, now you're growing a whole business on top of that. So everything that you do to improve the guest experience improves that, everything you do to get more guests in and increase your demand.

[00:05:45] All comes back to that growing base of repeat guests.

[00:05:48] Liam: How important is social media to first of all your business and also to host businesses in general? Yeah,

[00:05:56] Dustin: I, the way I look at social media is it is just the. It's a limitless source of demand, for any business. And, you know, there's not a business in the world that's not trying to tap into it because there are billions of users all on these platforms and they're there all the time.

[00:06:14] Like that's where the attention is all going. And so the beautiful thing about social media. It allows you to funnel that attention toward your business and all you have to do is just create content that people like to engage with and for vacation rentals. That's incredibly easy because we have a really wide appealing product.

[00:06:34] We have beautiful vacation homes that photograph and are good on video. And then we have the emotional element of, of being able to sell an experience and kind of speak to, you know, people's desires that way. And so basically to be able to funnel limitless traffic, you just have to get good at creating content that people like to engage with, and then use that to funnel that traffic ideally toward your direct booking website.

[00:07:00] Um, yeah, that, that could be the ultimate tool for anybody looking to increase their, their demand.

[00:07:09] Liam: What does success mean to you? And also what does that look like for your clients? Yeah.

[00:07:15] Dustin: So success for me, as far as like helping clients is getting them to the point where their business is fully established.

[00:07:28] And so I like to, to walk it through a step-by-step process because, you know, there's a lot that goes into it. The result is basically. having a massive stockpile of really good quality content that can be repurposed for social media, for email marketing, for a website, for paid ads, promotions, um, and then building out all the different things.

[00:07:49] So, you know, first optimizing the OTAs and making sure that that's the best they could be, then increasing your traffic with social media, and then moving that traffic toward a direct booking website. If as a marketer, I'm sending traffic anywhere, it's going to be a direct booking website because it's way more optimal than sending traffic to Airbnb, which a lot of people still tend to do.

[00:08:14] Um, and then ensuring the email marketing set up so that you can do that. But basically, my goal is to set this whole system up for hosts so that it becomes this. A marketing system that supports their entire business and makes everything that they do way more valuable and just gets a higher return on all their efforts.

[00:08:34] So everything that they, they do after that is going to, um, just improve their success overall, get them more bookings and hopefully scale their business so that the longer they operate, the more followers they get, the bigger their email list gets, the more repeat customers they get. Whereas for most hosts that only ever operate on Airbnb, the only thing that increases year after year is just the review count.

[00:08:58] And so it could feel like you're just kind of spinning your wheels. Um, but yeah, that's pretty much the thing that I aim for the most.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced?

[00:09:06] Liam: What are some of the challenges that you've, that you've faced while growing this, uh, coaching and marketing business?

[00:09:13] Dustin: Yeah. So the biggest challenge that I've run into personally is pairing pricing with marketing.

[00:09:21] So for anything that I've done in the past, it's mostly been working with fixed prices. Um, and as you know, with vacation rentals, it's almost completely arbitrary. It's mostly governed by supply and demand. And so when you have something like that, and then all of a sudden you incorporate marketing into it, that can completely change how you price the property.

[00:09:42] And then at the same time too, if you're selling a different product and value every single time, whether it's a different day of the week or a different time of the year, and then you factor in, uh, promotions on top of that, which can increase your conversion and, and, you know, like, how do you factor that into the pricing?

[00:09:59] So, that overall has probably been the biggest challenge in terms of coming up with a clear, refined system. Um, but luckily I was able to overcome that by. not focusing on what the perfect price is, which a lot of people tend to think about, and focusing on the ideal booking lead time. And so for those who don't know, it's the average booking lead time that you want to aim for.

[00:10:24] And so for example, it depends on the property, but if you want to be, um, average one month out booking lead time, which would be, um, 50% of your bookings are within a month and 50% after, uh, basically what you want to do is set that as your goal and then let the price change to meet that goal and to keep that, that road ahead of you essentially.

[00:10:47] Um, and so what that allows you to do? Is, um, if you're over that, so for example, if you're 80% booked one month out, then that means your prices are too low and you should increase your prices. If you're 25% occupied one month out, then you should be, uh, lowering your prices. And then the other thing that this is helpful for is you can predict your likelihood of reaching that ideal booking lead time by looking at your traffic volume, as well as your conversion rate.

[00:11:18] And so you could take those two things and easily calculate your likelihood of achieving that and then preemptively adjust your prices so that you're more likely to hit that goal. And then you could even impact that again by increasing your traffic with more marketing or increasing your conversion rate with promotions, for example, to help fill midweek or off-season, slow season times, but that's probably been the biggest challenge and Um, it's been nice to kinda like come up with something that remotely overcomes it.

[00:11:49] Liam: Having a blast. Gonna get it on the Boostly podcast. Bruce Lee. Let Bruce Lee 'cause it's so hard on the teas. Loosely making up those rhymes. Don't write it, just do it loosely.